IN A BID to improve pedestrian safety around the Torquay boat ramp, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) says it has requested additional patrols from Maritime Safety Victoria, along with increased signage around the ramp.
While the measures were intended to improve safety, a GORCC spokesperson said nothing excluded poor behaviour in the precinct, including boat operators launching or retrieving vessels having a “duty of care for the safety of those in the vicinity of their car/boat”.
The ramp, built in 2011 at a cost of $1.5 million, was not a gazetted road, the spokesperson said, with vehicle access to the sand restricted to 50 metres either side of the ramp, for the launching and recovery of vessels only.
While there are no exclusion zones on the beach, they exist in the water, with a regulation stating swimmers must not be within 50 metres of a ramp during launching and recovery of vessels, or within an access lane.
GORCC also installed extra signs and temporary fencing around the ramp area, to warn pedestrians of vehicle operations, however there were no penalties for entering or stopping within the zone.
“Vehicles do not have right of way, however pedestrians are asked not to use the ramp,” the GORCC spokesperson said.
“This is a shared space and all users need to take responsibility for their own, and others, safety when using the area.
“All persons launching or retrieving a boat have a duty of care for the safety of those in the vicinity of their car or boat.”
With a lack of sheltered bays along the coast, the spokesperson said the Torquay ramp could not be relocated, despite the challenges of sand inundation and the inability to install a “traditional style” deep water ramp.
In a bid to make the ramp safer, the spokesperson said the ramp was being cleaned of sand on a weekly basis, with additional patrols by GORCC officers.
Beach access for people with restricted mobility, including wheelchairs, crutches and prams and strollers had also been installed at the beach in an attempt to reduce the number of pedestrians using the ramp.